May 08, 2015
Claiming to represent 55 percent of the Volkswagen Group of America blue collar workforce in Chattanooga, TN, the United Auto Workers stepped up its efforts this week to obtain card check recognition at the facility, while also outlining how an EU-style works council would operate. It has been over a year since the union lost an election at the plant, and the company has met with both the UAW and a rival group—the American Council of Employees—as part of a "community organization engagement" policy the company initiated after the election. The UAW organizing effort was prompted by the German unions and their representatives on the VW Board pressing for works councils at all VW facilities world-wide. Most labor lawyers agree that formation of a works council in the absence of a union is likely illegal under U.S. labor law. The UAW continues to use the works council concept to make its case for recognition. The works council plan the union outlined would include both blue-collar and white-collar employees to discuss workplace policies other than wages and benefits, including: shift changes; overtime work and scheduling; workplace engineering/ergonomics; and development of quality indicators and programs to improve quality.